AND THE NEWWWW…that’s right, the new WWE Champion Bobby Lashley reign began last night on Monday Night Raw.
On Monday (March 1), the match was set between The Miz and Bobby Lashley to battle it out for the WWE championship. The Miz came up with several tactics to keep him from stepping into the ring with the former Intercontinental champion. After lying about having a stomach ache running away from Lashley with the title in his hand, the match ended due to a count-out. The former Mr. Money in the Bank was finally stopped in his tracks by Adams, who reassured The Miz that he would defend his title against Lashley.
With five minutes left into the show, fans from all over awaited for the match of the night. Lashley entered the ring for the third time in hopes of finally getting his hands on The Miz without any interruptions. Lashley could thank Shane O’Mac for including lumberjacks into the match so that The Miz has nowhere to run. In the end, Lashley joins The Rock and Kofi Kingston as the third Black wrestler to hold the WWE Championship.
History has been made once again! However, it has you wondering. WWE has been around for decades, and we’ve only seen a handful of Black wrestlers hold titles in the company. Since we’re discussing the WWE Championship, let’s discuss The Rock and Kofi Kingston.
In November 1998, The Rock won the WWE title for the very first time during a Survivor Series tournament, competing against the best in the company. After Steve Austin and The Undertaker were eliminated from the match, it was down to Mankind and “The Great One.” The match ended when The Rock put Mankind, aka Mick Foley, in the sharpshooter, a direct replica of the historical Montreal Screwjob that took place a year ago. Mr. McMahon ordered the referee to ring the bell, although Mankind never tapped out. The Rock was still handed his first WWE championship. His run as champion lasted a year until March 1999 at WrestleMania XV, The Rock suffered an injury during his match with the Texas rattlesnake, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and he lost his WWE title.
From 1999 to 2019, there hasn’t been a Black male wrestler worthy enough to win the WWE championship until Kofi Kingston debuted in 2008. For over 11 years in WWE, the Ghanaian-American received his first WWE championship title opportunity at Wrestlemania 35. His long journey from being unappreciated to becoming the underdog leading up to his match against Daniel Bryan paid off. The 37-year-old faced many challenges to get his title shot after Mustafa Ali suffered an injury before the Elimination Chamber match on February 17, 2019. This change at such a short period led Kingston to be the most popular Superstar in the company.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon, who referred to Kingston as a “B-plus player,” put The New Day member through several obstacles to see if he was deserving of a title shot. First, Vince replaced Kofi with Kevin Owens to face Daniel Bryan at Fastlane. Second, Kingston had to beat Sheamus, Cesaro, Rowan, Samoa Joe, and the viper, Randy Orton, in a gauntlet match. Although Kofi defended all five opponents, it still wasn’t enough to prove McMahon that Kofi was championship material. McMahon took it up a notch the following week by putting Big E and Xavier Woods in a tag team gauntlet match to secure their New Day teammate a place in the WWE championship match at Wrestlemania.
Kofi Kingston trumped Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania or should I say Kofimania as the second Black male wrestler to hold the WWE championship and the first African-born world championship in WWE history. Kingston’s win was one of the greatest moments that was one for the books. Unfortunately, Kofi’s title reign was cut short after he lost to Brock Lesnar less than 10 seconds on Friday night Smackdown’s debut on Fox.
During an interview with Smackdown’s commentator Corey Graves, Kingston shared his thoughts on losing his title 180 days later.
“This is weird too, a lot of people will be on my social media like, ‘Well Kofi, you’re acting like you don’t care, man. Did you forget that you were the champion?’ Well look, you’re asking my onscreen character to be angry like he’s my real character. I just feel like it’s one of those things where it just is what it is. And the reality [is] onscreen I’m a good guy who lost in eight seconds so as far as making a case for a rematch, what would my character have to say? ‘Give me another shot, Brock! I lost in eight seconds but I’ll get you next [time]!’ You want my real-life character to take on this anger and be mad with the way what happened onscreen. It’s this weird conundrum.”
He added: “I appreciate the passion people have, but I’m puzzled by the anger people have towards me because I’m not the one making all those decisions.”
I hope Bobby Lashley’s title reign doesn’t end in a whimper like Kofi Kingston. Our Black wrestlers are main event worthy, and they deserve better. I will say that I am happy WWE is finally listening to their fans. Now we can focus on Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair shutting it down at Wrestlemania 37. The question is, who will Lashley face?